Lichfield, Staffordshire – Cathedral church of St Chad, the East end

Here we are in grey Lichfield (grey because of the weather). Having done the Nave and the Transepts (see the last blog), it is time to move east. The bust by the entrance to the Chapter House is of Bishop Woods, bishop during WW2, by Jacob Epstein. They often have a copy of the St Chad Gospels, an Anglo-Saxon treasure, on display – but the electronic version is probably safer to look at. There is a pdf about it here. I also need to “do” the Staffordshire Horde – website.

The Chapter House was built in the 1240s. It is often used for exhibitions, but was empty at the moment (apart from some display stands). The Chapter House carvings are lovely, and the medieval wall painting shows the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

We have lots of gorgeous glass. My photos of glass are never very good, and really we need a guided tour of the glass. I think these are in the North Quire Aisle. I like the musicians.

The shrine of St Chad was dismantled at the Reformation, and the saint’s relics were smuggled out. In 1972 the floor tile was placed here, along with an icon by Aidan Hart and the prayer candles.

The Lady Chapel is the area to the east of the main altar and quire. By the C18 the medieval glass had disappeared, and in 1802 a local landowner, Sir Brooke Boothby, found C16 coloured glass from the Roman Catholic abbey at Herkenrode, which had been removed during the upheavals of the French revolutionary wars. It was now in Rotterdam. He wrote to the Dean, “My love for a place which I consider with the affection of a second home induces me to trouble you, my dear Sir, with this letter … I have contracted to the purchase of 17 windows of what appears to the be the finest painted glass which I have almost ever seen”. I hope the Dean was pleased! Apparently the glass was packed with straw in crates, transported to Hull, then up the Trent, and onto the canal to Gallows Wharf, about a mile from the Cathedral. They have an excellent screen with lots and lots to read – I wish they would make material like this available (and easily findable) on the www. We have lots of digital exhibitions and information – how do we make it available, and keep it up to date and accessible?

The altar is Victorian, and the reredos shows scenes from the Nativity. Apparently the figures were made in Oberammagau, Germany.

The screen which separates the Lady Chapel from the Quire has this memorial tablet to Mrs Selwyn, and her husband is buried nearby (I wonder why they weren’t buried together).

Bishop George Augustus Selwyn was the first Bishop of New Zealand, and then Bishop of Lichfield. He gives his name to Selwyn College, Cambridge – website. There is a New Zealand account of his life here. This is the man himself – from the College website. He is buried in his own little chamber, with NZ and Pacific images – and here is the Vicarage cat that shares his name.

There is a piece of medieval wall painting It apparently shows the Holy Trinity, the knees of God the Father supporting the crucified Christ.

This lovely statue is, according to the guidebook, The Sleeping Children, by Sir Francis Chantrey. It is in memory of two daughters of a Cathedral prebendary – am I being nosy in wanting to know his name, and their names? Whoever they were, may they rest in peace. You might like to have a look at this painting of his studio – here.

There are some interesting lumps of stone, and I tried to photo various corbels – and failed.

This window, made by the Kempe studio in 1901, shows damage inflicted in the Civil War.

I climbed up the steps to St Chad’s Head Chapel. It was built in the 1220s and was where the head of St Chad was kept – but you, dear Reader, probably worked that out. I photoed the view across into the Quire, and Bishop Hacket’s tomb. He was bishop of Lichfield and Coventry from 1662-69, and he was the one behind the rebuilding of the cathedral after the Civil War.

The Quire is very Victorian, with a lot of the work done by Sir George Gilbert Scott. He used alabaster from Fauld near Tutbury, grey and red marble and Blue John from Derbyshire and Staffordshire, and tiles from Stoke-on-Trent.

We will finish with the angels on the Quire screen.

There is so much more to see, and I must come back. I must come back and explore, I must come back and worship, I must come back and photo the outside. We will be back!



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